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What Happens If You Don't Pay OSHA Fines?

Posted by EHS Insight Resources on April 7, 2020 at 10:56 AM

An employee is seriously injured and OSHA slaps your company with fines. A safety referral results in a fine.

No one likes to think about what will happen if you get fined. If you’re a small company, the extent of these fines can be crippling. What happens if you don’t pay OSHA fines? Nothing good. Here’s what you need to know before you consider ignoring your penalties.

OSHA Penalties

OSHA takes safety violations seriously, and it penalizes employers for violations with the goal of discouraging other employers from being reckless in the same way. The maximum penalties are steep because they’re intended to spook employers out of risking them.

For serious, other-than-serious, or posting requirements violations, the maximum fine is $13,494 per violation. For failure to abate violations, the maximum fine is $13,494 per day after the abatement date. For willful or repeated violations, the maximum fine is $134,937 per violation.

The highest OSHA fine ever was issued in 2009 to BP Products North America for a whopping $89,340,000 total fines.

And while most companies won’t get fined on this scale (or even receive a maximum penalty) the price tag of an OSHA fine is still quite steep.

What Happens If You Don’t Pay OSHA Fines?

What happens if you don’t pay OSHA fines? Nothing good.

Turns out, you do have to pay those fines. And if you don’t, OSHA and the Department of Labor will find a way to ensure that you do. One company found that out the hard way.

A New Jersey-based construction company was fined $412,000 for numerous safety violations, including multiple willful violations of OSHA’s fall protection standard. But that wasn’t the end of the story. OSHA and the Department of Labor wound up pursuing the company for four years.

Eventually, the Third Court Circuit of Appeals found the company president in contempt and therefore liable to pay the fine.

A different company, Mike Neri Sewer & Water Contractor, was similarly foolish. OSHA cited and fined the company in 2013 and 2014 for cave-in hazards at the same job site, which the company owner failed to correct. Eventually, the company owner was banned from excavation work.

The owner, Mike Neri, also found out what happens when you don’t pay OSHA fines. A U.S. Marshall took Neri into custody for failing to correct violations and failing to pay his company’s fines. His fines at that point totaled more than $260,000.

Protect Your Company from Noncompliance

What happens if you don’t pay OSHA fines? In short order, anything from arrest to contempt charges to potential imprisonment.

Don’t let your company go down in history like these companies. Do better for your employees and your customers. Don’t let safety hazards go unchecked.

We’re here to make compliance easier, with compliance obligations software that allows you to know where you stand with your compliance requirements at any given time. That way, you can spot any issues before they get out of hand and correct them as soon as possible.

Ready to change the way you think about safety? Get in touch today to see our software in action.

Topics: OSHA, Regulatory Information, Workplace Health and Safety, Risk Management, Compliance, Safety Management, Audits & Inspections

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